By Scott Eddy, Director of Athletics Communications
Less than three years ago, Steven Klimek was wearing the St. Bonaventure brown and white as a member of the Bonnies pitching staff.
This spring, he was donning the orange and black of the Baltimore Orioles while pitching against major league competition.
After turning heads in the Orioles organization the past two years, Klimek earned the call up to major league spring training action last month. He threw in one game and was invited to join the big league club more than a half dozen times.
It's little wonder Klimek has picked up a spot on the Orioles organizational radar.
A simple check of his stats in the Baltimore minor league system will show that the former Bonnie and Rochester native has been no less than excellent as a professional.
In his first year as a pro in 2016, he compiled a 2-4 record with a 3.42 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 17 games and 47.1 innings of work.
Last year, he clearly took the next step in his progression.
Pitching for Delmarva, the Low A affiliate of the Orioles, he went 7-3 with a 2.67 ERA including six saves. His control was nothing short of impeccable – in 70.2 innings on the hill, he struck out 71 and walked only 12.
The flashes he displayed during his three-year Bonnies career were on full display as he showed why Orioles scouts decided to draft him following his junior year at St. Bonaventure.
"Last year I started to be able to really repeat my delivery consistently through the year and just tried to attack hitters and be aggressive," Klimek said of the keys to his success last season. "I developed a decent two-seam/sinker that forced a lot of ground balls, so I just trusted that pitch a lot to try and get batters out early in the count. With that mentality I found myself in favorable counts and that led to success."
Getting the call to pitch in a major league spring training game came as a tremendous reward for his hard work thus far. A 33rd round draft pick of the Orioles in the 2015 MLB Draft, Klimek has put in the effort to get noticed by members of the Baltimore front office.
"Pitching in an MLB spring training game was very cool. It was a learning experience and something that will help drive me moving forward," he said. "I was hopeful that I would get the chance to go over for a major league game but I can't say that I expected to. The biggest thing I realized is that it's just baseball, nothing changes; it's still 60-feet, six inches to home plate and none of the outside elements should make you change your approach."
Klimek will start the 2018 season one level closer to the major leagues as he was assigned to the Frederick Keys, the Class A Advanced affiliated of the Orioles in the Carolina League. The Keys opened their season on April 5. Klimek made his Keys debut on April 8 by earning the victory with a scoreless inning of relief.
Life in the minor leagues can be unpredictable with a move to the next level being just a phone call away. Instead of getting wrapped up in the what-ifs, Klimek is focusing on what he can control as the season begins.
"My goal is to just work hard and let the chips fall where they will to be honest," he said. "It's easy to get caught up in promotions and outside factors, but I really try to stay in the moment and get a little better each day. After 140 games I hope my numbers properly represent the body of work."
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